Over the years the names of many individual people have added colour to the Australian English vocabulary. The technical term for words deriving from people’s names is eponym (from the Greek epi ‘upon’ + onoma ‘name’). Eponymous people in Australian English include Anna Pavlova (ballerina), Barry Crocker (actor and singer), Baron Lamington (Governor of Queensland ), Ned Kelly (bushranger), Dame Nellie Melba (singer), Dorothy Dix (journalist), Sylvanus Bowser (inventor), Maria ‘Granny’ Smith (gardener), Reginald Grundy (television producer), and Harold Holt (Prime Minister) to name a few.* One of the more recent names we can add to this list is former Australian Olympian Steven Bradbury.
The Spring Racing Carnival is upon us again. It’s the time of the year when we dust off the fascinator, order the chicken and champagne lunch, and get out the form guide. The roses are blooming at Flemington, the TAB has been urging the punters amongst us to place our bets ahead of Cup Day to avoid the queues, and most of us will be taking part in the office sweep for the race that stops a nation. Continue reading →
The Olympic Games provide dictionary-makers with an excellent chance for word-gathering. Every four years those of us who enjoy the spectacle are entertained and educated by the current crop of sporting terms used by commentators, journalists, and athletes. Some words we only seem to hear during an Olympic year: chef de mission, for example, a fancy title for ‘team manager’. And once again the verb to medal is making people hot under the collar. Nobody, it seems, likes the verbing of nouns. But it’s time to get over this one. It was first recorded in the US in 1966 and came to prominence in the Barcelona Games of 1992. Continue reading →
Fanny Durack & Mina Wylie, Australia's first female Olympians (1912). Image source: State Library of New South Wales
by Mark Gwynn
The Games of the XXX Olympiad will see more than 180 women representing Australia in London over the next fortnight. The history of Australian women’s participation in the Olympic Games is a hundred years old, and has been marked by success, triumph, and the emergence of the Australian term golden girl – a female Olympic champion.